Royal Albert Hall: James Blunt show to be first full-capacity concert

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Only three limited-capacity shows have been held at the Royal Albert Hall since 17 March last year

The Royal Albert Hall is to begin hosting full-capacity concerts again this summer, it has been announced.

The South Kensington venue will reopen from 29 May with a series of limited-capacity shows, before allowing a full house on 6 July for a James Blunt gig.

The hall has not been fully open to audiences since 17 March 2020, delaying its 150th anniversary celebrations.

Chief executive Craig Hassall said they were "so excited about getting back to doing what we do best".

A family concert featuring the hall's own band will be the first show, on 29 May, while the Royal Choral Society will perform a socially distanced version of Handel's Messiah the following day.

The choir has performed the piece at the venue every year since 1876, apart from during World War Two and last year.

Image caption,
James Blunt fans will get to see his face in a crowded place

The hall's 150th anniversary concert will happen on 19 July, when a new work by James Bond and Sherlock composer David Arnold will be performed. The original plan had been to host an event on 29 March, 150 years to the day from the hall's opening.

Like many other venues, the pandemic has hit the hall hard and last year it reported a loss of £18m, plus £6.5m in refunded ticket sales.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The Royal Albert Hall marked its 150th anniversary in March

Mr Hassall said 2020 had been "the toughest period in the hall's 150-year history".

"But we are so excited about getting back to doing what we do best, and can't wait to welcome audiences to the hall to help us celebrate this anniversary in style," he said.

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